Looking to become a more effective teacher? Read John Dabell’s list of the 10 things that effective teachers do.
If only we could bottle the skills, knowledge, behaviours, qualities and competences required to be an excellent teacher. The contents could be poured onto the heads of newly qualified teachers so they could be ready to take on the world and blow the socks off their new class. If only it were possible – there is however, no single ‘best’ way or formula.
The minerals, materials and mojos of capable and thinking practitioners aren’t something we can easily summarise. However, there are a few global ‘stand-out’ raw ingredients we can confidently say effective teachers mix together and possess…
- They care
The best teachers care passionately about what they do. They care about their pupils; they care about their colleagues and their subjects they teach. They care about their profession and know that being a teacher matters. They strive to make a difference and are persistent practitioners and tenacious optimists with a daily devotion to duty.
- They put relationships first
Effective teachers have a golden rule: relationships first, lessons second. They focus on forging strong positive relationships, being authentic, building trust and being interested. Respect for people and the skillful management of human relationships is the sine qua of teaching success and clued-up teachers tune in and find the right tone valuing rapport over data.
- They collaborate
Teachers who work as a networked team fuel a culture of innovation, collegiality and trust by being open, consultative and deliberately helpful. They are supportive of colleagues and share ideas, resources and ambitions. They are flexible, pro-active connected educators who pool expertise, challenge each other and value diversity.
- They are creative
Dynamic teachers are bold, inventive and resourceful who are always looking for new opportunities to excel and progress. They are outward-looking idea hunter-gatherers who seek out best practice to inform their own so they can tweak, edit and innovate. They have the ability to challenge, question and explore keeping an open mind and make connections where none are obvious. They inspire their pupils’ imaginations to flip, float and fizz.
- They have a ‘kaizen’ mind-set
Continuous improvement is at the very heart of teaching and learning and knowledge-hungry teachers are never satisfied with standing still. They constantly aim to improve their practice and search for new ways of working. They pour energy into their own CPD and metacognition and go out of their way to be professionally informed lifelong learners focused on high will and high skill.
- They embrace mistakes
Great teachers are flawed and accept that perfection is the enemy of good and failure is the mother of success. They encourage a transparent and positive ‘mistakes-friendly’ classroom and let children know that mistake-making is actually good for the brain because it feeds progress through stretch and struggle.
- They make learning fun and effective
Effective teachers make pupils feel relaxed and comfortable by making learning engaging and long-lasting. Pupils who like and enjoy coming to school every day laugh and learn every day because their teachers find ways to make impact by being playful, spirited, maverick and challenging. They capture attention like a Venus-fly trap using humour, props, music, dance and daring.
- They look and listen
Effective classroom managers observe and listen very carefully to each pupil assessing their individual learning and emotional needs. They get to know what each makes each pupil tick, they learn their strengths and weaknesses and they step into their shoes by being empathetic, nurturing and positive.
- They smile
Pupils love a teacher that smiles with their eyes and their mouth because it inspires them to feel upbeat, positive and wanted. It also puts them at ease and builds instant rapport helping to create trusting bonds and a close-knit community
- They think of themselves
Effective teachers are healthy teachers who know their boundaries, focus on their wellbeing and know when to say “No”. They put heart and soul into the day but draw a line so that they have a life outside of teaching.
Effective teachers don’t possess haloes, superpowers or any particular natural ability to teach. They develop their craft, spot what works and never give up trying to improve and get better. An effective teacher isn’t necessarily outstanding but they do stand out, HUGG (Have Unbelievably Giant Goals) and squeeze the most out of every situation.
This blog has been written by John Dabell; experienced teacher, former school inspector, project manager, writer and editor. @John_Dabell